(Jan. 1, 1484 – Oct. 11, 1531)
was the third of eight boys and two girls born to the successful
district official, Ulrich Zwingli, of the town of Wildhaus. Zwingli’s
uncle, Bartholomew, was pastor of Wildhaus until 1487 and subsequently
became pastor and dean of Wesen on the Walensee. It was there that
the younger Ulrich received his early education under his uncle’s
guidance. He was sent, at the age of ten, to Gregory Bunzli of Wesen
who was studying at Basel and teaching in the school of St. Theodore.
was educated at the University of Vienna, Berne and the University
of Basel. He studied under some of the greatest Humanists of Switzerland.
He was highly educated in the classical studies of poetry, philosophy,
music, astronomy, physics and the ancient classics, acquiring
his B.A. degree in 1504 and Master of Arts in 1506 at the University
of Basel. It was, amazingly, amongst his total emersion in humanism
at university, that Zwingli met men who would plant seeds of reformation
in his mind. Back
In 1506 he was ordained into the priesthood in Glarus, where he
began studying Erasmus—even going so far, it is said, to
invite him for a visit (the invitation was declined). However,
Erasmus’ writings were part of what is to be credited with
Zwingli’s attention beginning to turn toward the reformation.
In 1515, he moved to Einsiedeln, where he saw, up close, the evil
inherent in certain practices from Rome such as the buying of
indulgences. (Zwingli began preaching against and condemning them,
several years before Luther, himself, did so.) He also strongly
opposed the mercenary service, a practice that seemed especially
to make the Roman church rich while killing young Swiss and leading
others to a life of moral decay in the face of constant battle.
Zwingli’s reform teachings became quite popular and on January
1, 1519, he was appointed priest at Grossmünster in Zürich.
the seeds of reform had already been planted and Zwingli was already
preaching the beginnings of a reform platform, he had not yet
given himself fully and completely to the Lord. For up to this
time, he had some indiscretions in his behavior that he had not
fully turned away from. But when the 1520 plague struck Zurich
and destroyed nearly a third of its inhabitants, including Zwingli
himself who had been faithfully ministering to the needs of his
people, it appears as though he emerged from his near death experience
a changed man. Back
Takes a Stand
he fully recovered from the plague, Zwingli began earnestly fighting
for strict obedience to the literal teachings of scripture. In
Switzerland, reform was brought about by appeal to the magistrate
of the city who called for a debate between Roman Catholic theologians
and reformers. He who defended his position most effectively and
almost always it was the reformers—who based their arguments
solely on scripture, was awarded the right to make, or not make,
the disputed reform. Zwingli won his first of many successful
debates in 1523. Some of the changes brought about by his debates
were: Lent was abandoned, clerical celibacy was declared unbiblical,
churches were severed from the papacy, the mass was replaced…just
a few among many changes that Zwingli and others in Switzerland
brought about. Back
during this time of great victory for Zwingli and the Swiss reformers,
a dispute with Luther and his German contemporaries curtailed
any attempt at unifying the parties. The parties managed to agree
on 15 points of essential reform doctrine. There was only one
point of dispute between the camps. The dispute revolved around
the understanding of the Lord’s Supper. The Swiss did not
agree with Luther’s doctrine of consubstantiation; they
viewed the act of honoring the Lord’s Supper as a more symbolic
act, not a literal changing of the substance of the elements.
Some sources say that Luther harshly disagreed with the Swiss
and called a halt to further fellowship, amid Zwingli’s
great disappointment and attempt to unify the two camps in spite
of this one doctrinal difference. Back
controversy surrounding Zwingli’s life is his marriage to
Anna Reinhard. Reportedly, Zwingli married Reinhard, a widow of
high standing in the community, in a secret marriage in 1522.
Zwingli kept his marriage a secret from all but his closest friends
until he married her publicly on April 2, 1524. Some have theorized
that this was because priests were forbidden from marrying in
his day and he was afraid of backlash from doing so. Others have
not been quite so kind and even accuse him of living with her
in an unmarried state from 1522-1524 in what was called a “clerical
marriage.” Regardless of the particulars, theirs was seen
as a good marriage which resulted in the birth of four children,
adding to the three she brought into the marriage. Their names
were Regula Zwingli, born July 13,1524; Wilhelm Zwingli, born
January 29, 1526; Huldreich Zwingli, born Jan. 6, 1528 and Anna
Zwingli, born May 4, 1530. Back
Opposition & Death
Although hugely popular with the Swiss, the officials in Rome
had great animosity toward Zwingli and the Protestant movement
in Switzerland. In 1529, they began a wide campaign to end Protestantism
in Switzerland. Their efforts began with an attempt to instill
a false sense of security by suing the Swiss for “peace.”
What in fact the Roman Catholic Church did was to buy themselves
time to strengthen their troops for battle against the Swiss,
as Zwingli suspected and warned against all along.
In 1531, the Roman Catholic Church declared war against the Protestant
Swiss in a sudden surprise attack. Zwingli joined the Swiss troops
as chaplain. The Swiss lost decisively and Zwingli was killed
at the battle of Kappel, his body defiled, on October 11, 1531.
Line of Zwingli's Life
is born on January 1 in Wildhaus, Switzerland.
attends the University of Vienna
receives his Bachelor's Degree from the University of Basel.
earns his Master's Degree from the University of Basel.
is ordained and becomes Pastor at Glarus.
a Papal pension, he makes at least two trips to Italy accompanying
Swiss mercenary soldiers as a chaplain.
becomes Pastor at Einsiedeln—where his preaching was popular.
He moves to an evangelical interpretation of the Scriptures.
becomes the People's Priest at Grossmünster Church in Zurich
and abandons the liturgical calendar to start preaching through
the Bible book by book. He challenges unscriptural practices
of the Roman Catholic Church.
strikes Zurich killing one third of the population—Zwingli
ministers to the sick and dying where he is stricken himself
and almost dies.
emerges from his bout with the plague with a much greater commitment
to the Lord.
is secretly married to Anna Reinhard, a widow with three children,
who would bear him four more. He publicly marries her in 1524.
publishes his Sixty Seven Articles on January 19th.
was "cleansed" of organs, images, relics and religious
houses by zealous citizens involved in reform teachings.
yearly Mass is abolished and replaced by a quarterly communion.
Baptism is also changed. Zwingli's work, True and False Religion,
is published. Worship is now a Preaching and Prayer service,
City Council takes over Church disciplinary matters and excommunication.
Zurich is now a Christian Commonwealth ruled by Magistrates.
Roman Catholics are tolerated, but restricted in their activities
and civic position.
opposition by Catholic Cantons motivates the formation of a
Christian Civic League uniting Zurich, Berne, Basel, Schaffhausen,
and St. Gall and the free Imperial city of Constance. Zwingli
wrote the 12 Theses of Berne for this conference. The Peace
of Kappel encouraged the Protestants to continue evangelical
efforts in the Catholic cantons, but such efforts only increase
attended the Colloquy at Marburg called by Philip of Hesse in
an attempt to bring together the German and Swiss Reformations.
Agreeing on almost every point, Martin Luther was unwilling
to accept Zwingli's view of the Lord's Supper as a memorial.
Efforts at unity fail.
confession written by Zwingli is presented to Charles the V
at the Diet of Augsburg in July of 1530. It is unread and treated
to Zurich, Zwingli sets about defending the faith. He writes
an Exposition of the Christian faith Frances I of France, warning
of the lies and slanders being circulated against the Protestants.
It also remains unread.
October, Zwingli musters the citizenry to prepare for defense
against the Catholic Cantons. A Catholic army of 8,000 men advanced
against Zurich's 1500 defenders. Zwingli accompanies the troops
with a sword and is slain along with 26 members of the Town
council and 24 other pastors—a total of 500 Protestants
die. The resulting treaty of peace leaves religious boundaries
as they are, but prevents any further Protestant expansion in
Switzerland. Zwingli's work is continued by Bullinger. Back
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